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Fight over cell phone lands Pensacola woman in jail for child abuse

Photo: Kathleen Ralston

Photo source: Escambia County Jail

Police say a 29-year-old woman fought a child who, she claims, refused to give up her cell phone passcode. Kathleen Ralston told police she was disciplining the child, according to the arrest report.

Pensacola police were called out to a home in the 400 block of W. Strong Street for a report of child abuse Sunday around 5:06 p.m. The reporting person told the responding officer Ralston hit the child in the face, the report states.

According to the police report, the officer observed bruising to the child's forehead, cheek, eye and scabs on the lips. The deputy noted in the report that the injuries, which appeared to be from multiple points of contact, were consistent with being struck by a hand, not an object.

The child said Ralston came to her bedroom, woke her up and asked for the passcode to her phone, according to the report. She said Ralston got angry and hit her numerous times in the face, called her an expletive and even punched her, the report states.

Ralston initially refused to speak to police. The officer reports she locked herself in the bathroom and said she did not want to talk because she "took a sleeping pill." Once arrested, her version of the incident, as reported to police, was that she "spanked" the child for not giving her the passcode. Police say the suspect's story changed later, in which she claimed the child injured herself in the bathroom.

Ralston faces one felony count of cruelty towards a child/abuse without great bodily harm, misdemeanor count of property damage/criminal mischief, felony count of burglary and a felony count of larceny. She has been booked into the Escambia County Jail and has no bond.

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